Woodhaven residents voice criticism for Select Bus Service

By Mark Hallum

The DOT and MTA hit a raw nerve with Woodhaven residents at an open house to discuss the new Select Bus Service plan. Attendees fired back at representatives when they felt as if their complaints were not being taken seriously and a press release from the Woodhaven Resident’s Block Association described the animated criticism for the new plan.

Attendees packed the open house May 25 at PS 306, the civic said, and expressed concern that the new plan required commuters to wait in the median of Woodhaven Boulevard along some parts of the corridor. Another aspect of the plan would disrupt traffic by removing a lane of traffic and designating it for bus use only, which also eliminates the possibility of making left turns on major cross roads.

Other concerns are snow removal at bus stops, bus drivers violating traffic laws and the impact the plan will have on parking.

“Many residents and business owners from Woodhaven and beyond made clear that they oppose the plan as it currently stands. There’s no way DOT and MTA can move ahead in good faith without taking this feedback seriously,” Martin Colberg, president of the WRBA, said. “There has been virtually no genuine community feedback in favor of this plan, but as we saw last night, there’s plenty in opposition.”

The blcok association said one DOT representative told a longtime resident that the point of the open house was not to collect feedback, but simply to inform the crowd of what was going to happen with buses along Woodhaven Boulevard.

“DOT should listen carefully to the disappointed and frustrated residents who spoke up last night, not dismiss them. Unfortunately, many attendees felt this was a dog and pony show, rather than a true effort to collect feedback,” said, Alex Blenkinsopp, WRBA’s communications director. “DOT demonstrated an ability to respond to community input when they reinstated some of the left turns. They have an opportunity to regain the faith of the community by making the significant changes requested at the open house.”

According to U.S. Census data provided in a Riders Alliance press release, 400,000 people live within a 15-minute walk to Woodhaven Boulevard with 43 percent of them not owning a car. A total of 60 percent take public transportation to work.

The WRBA is asking people who oppose the plans for Select Bus Service through Woodhaven to sign a petition at saveourstreets.nyc.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.